26 March 2008

Getting down to brass tacks

Less than 5 full days remain until the Royals' season opener in Detroit and questions still abound in Surprise. The #4 and #5 rotation competitions has half turned-out like I didn't want it to -- lefty John Bale has stepped up to grab the #4 spot, most likely, which I like, but I didn't want one of the spots to default to someone and it looks like that's what's going to happen in the 5th slot. Brett Tomko has pitched not well but not absolutely horribly, either, for the most part. The team site tried to paint his 4 IP, 3 K, 3 runs but only 1 ER outing versus the Padres last night as a positive, but four of the five hits he gave up went for extra bases, and he has gotten lit up several times -- his spring ERA is 7.23 and, as opposed to Brian Bannister, I doubt it's because he's trying some different things. He's just not getting it done. Another problem is that the only other competitors left for the spot are lefty Jorge de la Rosa, who I can't stomach in the spot, and righty Kyle Davies, who got lit up in a minor league game Tuesday for 6 ER on 11 hits in 5 IP. The guy I wanted for the slot -- Luke Hochevar -- for some reason was optioned to AAA on Easter Sunday despite a 2.25 spring ERA (I know, I know, it's only spring training) and .226 OBA. Basically, Hochevar was earning it but the Royals want to hold off and put an innings eater in the spot. That's what it's coming down to. That's not how divisions are won, I'm pretty sure.

Meanwhile, the positional decisions have been detailed by both the Star and team site as pretty cut and dry. Since the start of camp, a list of 13 positional players has been pretty much slated to be the group hitting Detroit next Monday -- Buck, Tupman, Guillen, Butler, Gload, Grudzielanek, Peña, Gordon, German, Callaspo, Teahen, DeJesus and Gathright. Tupman will head to Omaha once Miguel Olivo's 5-game suspension is served. The question is what happens to Guillen as commissioner Bud Selig has yet to rule on his appeal of his 15-game banned substances suspension, for some reason. Ryan Shealy, Justin Huber and Damon Hollins are the Star's reported frontrunners for the position should the Royals decided to fill it, but Shealy has an option left, Hollins isn't on the 40-man and apparently the Royals don't trust Huber's defense enough even though he's out of options. Trade talks have recently swirled around German to the Dodgers and, Godpleasemakeithappen Angel Berroa to the Nationals, and I'm hoping if the Royals aren't gonna give Huber his shot, they trade him somewhere to get something out of him than a waiver claim by someone else. German, by the way, was named as Hillman as the likely right fielder to start the season in Guillen's absence if his suspension holds. I don't know why you wouldn't put Teahen back over there for a few games and put Gathright in left, not to say German isn't offensively capable, but I saw enough of him in the outfield during the Buddy Bell era. Manager Trey Hillman said he "wanted to keep from complicating the situation" for Teahen. Is it really that hard to move back to a position he played all last year?

By the way, I would embed the video of Joey Gathright's amazing leap over Hideki Kuroda in Monday night's FSN game vs. the Dodgers, but knowing MLB it'll be off for copyright concerns within a couple days. Here's a link instead. Awesome play.

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